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How Bullet Lists Help Organize Your Ideas

Updated on December 23, 2020Writing Tips

Everyone has seen a bulleted list. Merriam Webster defines the bullet points themselves as, “an item in a list that has a large dot in front of it to signify its importance broadly.” That large dot has power and can have a wide variety of uses–ones you may have never considered before. 

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You may have learned bullet points in a writing class long ago, but no longer think they’re necessary in your day-to-day life. On the other hand, you may be someone who uses them constantly. Either way, bulleted lists are essential for being able to convey your message to your reader. In both personal and professional writing, bullet points give you the ability to communicate as effectively as possible.  

What exactly is a bullet list? 

The simple definition is that a bullet list is a series of items with a heading broken up by dotted points. These lists can be used for anything you need them to, whether it’s as informal as an agenda or as formal as a business plan at your workplace. Bullet lists are especially important for writers in today’s world; as keeping a reader’s attention becomes more and more challenging, bullet lists enable the reader to quickly scan information in a condensed format. 

How do you use a bullet list?

Some tips for writing an efficient bullet list include:

  • Write a strong headline that groups associated items together.
  • Format each bullet point the same way, including font and margin before the point.
  • Use the same part of speech at the beginning of the bullet point.
  • Keep the bullet points brief. 

See what I did there? I hope the bullet list above was effective in grabbing your attention. 

Punctuation in bullet lists

There are many ways to format bullet lists—including with punctuation and without. Both ways are correct, but you need to make sure you’re consistent in which direction you choose. 

Here’s an example of an inconsistent bullet list. 

Some interesting things about me include:

  • I like to play the saxophone. 
  • Am distantly related to Charlemagne 
  • I have never missed a day of work in my life.

The above bullet list lacks consistency. It’s a mix of two complete sentences and a fragment. 

Below is the accurate way to convey the same thing with bullet points. 

Some interesting things about me:

  • I like to play the saxophone.
  • I’m distantly related to Charlemagne. 
  • I’ve never missed a day of work in my life.

However, if you chose to use all fragments instead of complete sentences, you wouldn’t need to end the fragments with punctuation. Also, if the items you’re listing need to occur in a specific order, use numbers instead of bullet points. As previously stated, bullet points need to be related to one another but don’t necessarily have to be in order.

Using bullet points in a professional context 

Grammarly can assist with bullet points, especially in professional emails. If you have written a longer paragraph that can be broken up, the Grammarly writing assistant will suggest ways to condense your information in a more readable format. 

The lovely world of bullet journaling 

Now onto the most fun and creative way to use bullet points: bullet journaling!


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Bullet journals have quickly taken the place of planners in the past few years, but don’t only serve as a way to keep track of tasks for the week. Bullet journals can be used to scribble, meditate, write down recipes, keep track of goals—you name it. Many people use bullet journals in their personal life, but they can also be used for work—though you could always use them for both! That’s what’s wonderful about bullet journals: they don’t come with constraints. 


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To start one, all you need is a blank or dotted journal. From there, you can create:

  • an index
  • a future log, or year-at-a-glance page
  • a monthly log
  • a daily log


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The blank pages are yours to structure as you’d like. Just like how bullet lists are used in daily life to condense and structure information in a readable format, bullet journals are popular because they’ve been able to do the same for people, but in the form of a planner-journal hybrid.

We hope the examples above inspire you to create a bullet journal of your own!

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